NEW YORK — Compagnie Financière Richemont SA’s Frederick Mostert set out Tuesday to epitomize the $500 billion global counterfeit market — and stress how buying counterfeit goods fuels child labor and terrorism worldwide.
“This is a fake Armani suit,” said Mostert, rising from his chair and opening his jacket. “This is a fake Dunhill shirt, a fake Yves Saint Laurent tie and a fake Ferragamo belt.”
For a finale, Mostert reached under his chair, pulled out a fake Prada briefcase, placed it on the table in front of him and removed fake Tiffany jewelry, which he said was for his wife.
Mostert, Richemont’s chief intellectual property council and executive director, who also is chairman of the Intellectual Property Committee of the Walpole Group, was part of a panel that included executives from Gucci, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition set to launch a marketing campaign aimed at reeducating consumers. Raymond Kelly, New York City’s police commissioner, was the keynote speaker.
Changing consumer attitudes toward buying counterfeit goods is a major task for luxury and fashion companies and one that hinges on linking those purchases to the funding of criminal activities — from terrorism to child labor.
“This is a major growth industry,” said Kelly at the event, which was sponsored by Harper’s Bazaar and the coalition. The increasing criminal attraction, he said, is natural considering the relatively low costs for entering the market and for manufacturing goods. Profits are high, and getting caught carries far fewer penalties than most criminal activities.
Kelly in particular is aware of the prominent role the U.S. and New York City play in the global counterfeit market. According to a November 2004 report issued by William C. Thompson Jr., New York comptroller, an estimated $456 billion was spent on counterfeit goods in 2003 worldwide — from pharmaceuticals to handbags. The U.S. accounted for $286.8 billion, or 62.9 percent, of that. New York state alone garnered an estimated $34.4 billion, while New York City’s take was estimated at $22.9 billion — from the corners of Fifth Avenue to the traders in Canal Street.
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